Please forward this error screen to 185. Disclaimer: this page is not written mixing This Track – Ed The Red – Electronica Vol. 1 from the point of view of a David Bowie fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective David Bowie fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further.
If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For reading convenience, please open the reader comments section in a parallel browser window. David the Glam King nah, forget that. David Bowie is perhaps best known for his great gay images and glam superstarship of the early Seventies, but in fact it was only one facet of this guy. Throughout his long and extremely inconsistent career, a career that alternated peaks and absolute low points like one exchanges underwear, David has taken on everything – the Beatles aside, this dude’s perhaps rock’s most notorious experimentator. Unfortunately, like oh so many bands and performers, David got his problems, too. Perhaps his biggest problem was that he wanted, and still wants, to be a big star.
No, don’t get me wrong: I know that everybody wants to be a big star. Okay, so what’s the deal, one should ask? We all know that his ‘fashionability’ led to a steady decline in the Eighties, with presumably embarrassing dance pop albums and stuff like that, and his Nineties catalog is, er, well, how’d you say it artistically dubious, to say it in a mild manner. But, after all, wasn’t that the fate that chopped all of the ‘dinosaurs’ – I mean, Bowie was far from the only 40-year old artist that burned out in the Eighties? NB: I like Bowie very much. The guy is actually a limited songwriter.
I can’t really say that he’s a heck of a melody writer. Yes, the melodies are derivative, but they all carry Bowie’s outstanding personality. Yeah, he’d never written anything as brilliantly genial as ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, but then again, who had? David’s primary goal is to make his music interesting for the listener. This is why he’s still a star after all these years. David’s been wearing his mask for so long that even when he takes it off, I’m not able to recognize his true face.
He’s no John Lennon, that’s for sure. He’s been getting better at this since he hit 50, though. Like I said, Bowie’s innovative skills are heavily overrated. Well, for the most part you can easily understand that Bowie’s not making a big fuss about his spectacle. It’s only when he tries to pass stuff like Black Tie or Earthling for high art that one can let the big fart out. Is there anything this guy hasn’t tried at least once? Best song: well, it’s hard to tell.
1964 and 1966, including six singles, both A- and B-sides, and five more previously unreleased demos. Thus, it’s the most natural way to start with the man’s recording career. Wanna know why Mr Davy Jones didn’t manage to hit it big in the Sixties? Still, it is quite an entertaining process to witness Bowie’s slow “graduation process”. Liza Jane’ and ‘Louie Louie Go Home’. Although, to give David his due, on the second single he tries to broaden the palette: ‘I Pity The Fool’ is generic blues, while its B-side, ‘Take My Tip’, is a strangely sounding swing tune with obvious Georgie Fame influences, and the saxophone is even more prominent on both of these songs. Obviously, The Mannish Boys were already not supposed to emulate the Yardbirds – they wanted to move closer to the ‘sources’.
Things get significantly better on his next single as Davy Jones. Another reinvention here, as a raunchy Mod ‘anthemizer’ along the lines of the Who. You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’, produced by Shel Talmy, indeed sounds like an inferior outtake from the Who’s earliest recording sessions, with speedy bass, crashing drums and chaotic feedbacky guitar serving as the instrumental break. It’s not until ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’, his major 1966 single, that there actually appears a David Bowie – both in the name and the essence. For the first time, Bowie actually cares about the lyrics – introspective and entertaining – and the atmosphere, which is that of actual desperation and insecurity. No audible melody, of course, but wait, you’re not gonna receive the whole package at once.
The B-side, ‘And I Say To Myself’, though, is ‘Baby Loves That Way’ vol. 1964-70 years – seven years of recording career! Don’t forget that most major artists, starting from the Beatles and further on, had no more than one or two years of recording career before maturing to a serious artist. Like so many early efforts by later superstars, this one’s been unjustly forgotten, trodden over and completely dismissed as an embarrassing failure. Okay, I’ll be the voice of disagreement in the general chorus again: this album has really grown on me over the past two days, actually, but hey, it took a month for me to appreciate Elton John’s Captain Fantastic, so never mind, just think about this comparison yourself and see what conclusions you may draw.
In fact, this self-titled debut of David has been forgotten so seriously that few reviewers nowadays even mention it. Throw me in a burning furnace if I know. Well, for the most part, it’s simply the unpredictability of the record: as you all know, Bowie’s a weird one, and you never know where exactly he’s gonna turn. While there is quite a fair share of poodle fodder to be met among these fourteen tracks, there is, just as well, a reasonable amount of diversity: contrary to rumours, Bowie does not simply re-write the same song over and over again. But you get my drift, anyway. Not that everything on here is weird, of course.